My typical experience with disappointment:
- I think things are going to go a certain way
- I see the stars beginning to align
- For one reason or another, everything falls apart
- My hopes are dashed and I feel crushed
- I feel sad and my heart is aching because of the disappointment
Why do I do this to myself?
Why did I allow myself to hope even just a little?
I went through the uphill climb of thinking “Well, maybe?” then “It’s a possibility this could happen,” now I’m reaching the apex of “Everything seems to imply this will happen!” to free falling into a downward spiral of “NOPE. Not happening.”
Following this roller coast of emotions, I find myself in the midst of a disappointment hangover. How do you shut off the feeling of hope?
How does anyone deal with a case of chronic disappointment?
I try to focus on the things I can influence which are the areas of my life within my sphere of control.
Still, the pain resurfaces and I know I let myself get wrapped up in the hope when I should have known better.
What can I do differently to prevent this from happening over and over again?
A good friend of mine suggested “radical acceptance.” Psychology Today states, “Radical Acceptance means completely and totally accepting something from the depths of your soul, with your heart and your mind. You stop fighting reality. When you stop fighting you suffer less.”
This sounds a whole lot like Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths. As I get older (and presumably wiser) I see a lot of connections between science, faith and how both fit in my world.
A very basic summary of Buddha’s Four Noble Truths:
- Life is suffering. The nature of life leads to suffering. We will experience pain of some sort (this does not have to be physical).
- Suffering is craving (we always want something and search outside of ourselves for happiness). We are insatiable.
- We attach not only to physical things, but also to ideas and opinions about ourselves and the world around us. Then we grow frustrated when the world does not behave the way we think it should and our lives don’t conform to our expectations. (THIS is where I’m struggling the most!)
- We can cure suffering (via meditation).
- The end of suffering is enlightenment.
So where does this leave me on my disappointed journey?
I can meditate and I can pay attention to what’s happening right now and subsequently accept disappointment, then let it go.
I don’t anticipate I’ll reach enlightenment, but when I look into the eyes of my little girls and feel their love, and I feel the love and support I get from my husband and friends… I feel pretty damn good and feeling disappointed is the last thing on my mind. It’s a start.